General Question

Unexpected_Rain's avatar

Which Laptop to choose?

Asked by Unexpected_Rain (357points) August 1st, 2010

Hi, i’m trying to help a friend choose a laptop/notebook and we’ve whittled her list down to two, very similar machines. She is an artist so it will need to be able to run large art programs and display high res. pictures, but beyond that it’s all pretty flexible.

The differences seem to be the processor, amount of RAM and size of hard drive.

The first One is Here

The second one Here

Any input or suggestions are most appreciated

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8 Answers

Austinlad's avatar

For me, the choice is simple, especially since the brand is the same and the difference in cost is so little. I’d go for the machine with the greater memory and faster processor.

Unexpected_Rain's avatar

@Austinlad Thanks, yeah thats the one she’s leaning toward. I just wanted to make sure we hadn’t missed something

jaytkay's avatar

The i3 is a newer design and faster processor, despite the slightly lower clock speed.PassMark rates it as 30% faster over the t4400.

So it’s a trade-off. More RAM and HD space vs faster processor.

Passmark CPU Mark (higher is better)
1531 – Pentium Dual-Core T4400 @ 2.20GHz
1992 – Intel Core i3 M 330 @ 2.13GHz

GeorgeGee's avatar

Just a little sanity check here: Are you sure about the decision to get a laptop? For “art programs” I usually recommend a desktop computer with a 22” or 24” screen. A laptop with a 15” screen can’t compare, and you get more for your money with a desktop. A laptop powerful enough to run programs like Photoshop well will tend to be heavy, and people don’t like to carry around heavy laptops. It’s usually a myth to imagine that an artist is going to do serious Photoshop work on a bus.

jerv's avatar

The Core i3 doesn’t need clock speed to beat a Core2 or Pentium dual-core. The 1.3 GHz SU41000 in my Toshiba T135 beats nine flavors of dogshit out of my old 3.4 GHz Northwood P4 despite being less than half the clockspeed.

Personally, I get by just fine on 3GB RAM and 320 GB of drive space on my laptop, and find that the added CPU power really helps more than having a lot of empty space. Of course, part of that may be that I also have a desktop system with 6GB of RAM and a 1 TB drive for my serious work, but that doesn’t stop me from doing stuff with GIMP on my laptop… and having memory to spare when working with images larger than my 1366×768 screen and the storage to keep them (my 320GB hard drive is less than half full).

@GeorgeGee I don’t see 4 pounds as heavy. What weighs you down are a large screen and the large battery required to get decent run times out of a machine like that; the backlight consumes a lot of power, so smaller laptops (like my 13”) can get 6–8 hours while a far heavier laptop with the same amount of CPU power and RAM and a 15–17” screen would be luck to get 4 hours.
That said, I agree that some things are better left to a big screen, and my 1600×900 20” monitor allows me to do more than any laptop, though I do have video out (both VGA and HDMI) if I want to split the difference.

reijinni's avatar

Take the first one. more memory, faster processor, and larger hard drive

GeorgeGee's avatar

@jerv, first off, both of these are listed at 2.5Kg = 5.51lbs, not 4lbs.
Second, a T4400 is a pretty low end processor. For about the same price, this Acer computer has a Core I5–650 processor which is approximately twice as fast according to the PassMark benchmark.

jerv's avatar

@GeorgeGee I think you misread or skipped the last paragraph, but you definitely misinterpreted another part of my answer. When I said ”I don’t see four pounds as heavy.”, I was referring to my laptop which is listed at 3.88 pounds and yet still has the power to run Photoshop. See, CPUs don’t speed up with larger screens; processing power remains constant while weight increases dramatically and battery life takes a nose dive. Meanwhile, 3GB of RAM is still 3GB, and hard drives don’t magically expend either.
Therefore, I refute your claim that “A laptop powerful enough to run programs like Photoshop well will tend to be heavy…” since I can run it fine on mine, and there are 13” Core i5s out there that can do it better while still being lighter than most 15” laptops.

Since the OP was asking about laptops I feel it safe to assume that they want something that weighs less than 9kg not counting screen, keyboard, mouse, or the long extension cord you need to go anywhere with it so I disregarded desktop systems even though they generally are considerably more powerful and capable at the same price point.
My T135 with 3GB RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and no optical drive cost the same as my i3–530 tower with 6 GB RAM, a 1 TB drive, and a DVD burner. Another $100 got me a silent GT240 card that beats the shit out of the T135’s non-upgradable Intel GMA4500M. Still, my T135 is more portable than even the LCD monitor on that tower so it depends on priorities.

And you’re right about the CPU, but how long will that i5–650 last with a 5.6 amp-hour pack? Sorry, but the Core i-series was designed for speed and power with little concern about power consumption aside from the linked issues of heat dissipation whereas the SU4100 I have and the T4400 were designed with a different set of parameters. A CPU that draws 73W will suck a battery dead in half the time of one that draws 35W, which in turn will drain a pack far quicker than my 10W CULV CPU. That is comparing apples and orangutans, my friend.

We do agree that certain things (like Photoshop) are better suited for a more powerful system with a larger screen though. I don’t see either of those two as being appreciably more capable of Photoshopping than my T135 and would take my cheap-ass tower over either of them any day if I were serious about Photoshop. You might be correct in that they just want a laptop since laptops are “cool” without realizing how much less capable they are (on average) than a desktop system. And you are definitely correct that a 24” screen is better for that sort of stuff than a 15 one.

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